Is your inner critic screaming at you right now? That’s your stinkin’ thinkin and it’s keeping you playing small. You know, it’s that negative self-talk that keeps looping in your brain telling you either, “you’re doing it wrong!” or “you don’t have what it takes to do this, so you might as well STOP right now.” Sound familiar?
Earlier this week, I spoke to Trevor Blake all about how to launch a startup, the simple way and it reminded me of the heaps of courage you truly need to have in order to step out and start something new.
As a business coach, I work with a lot of entrepreneurs and I hear their stories and challenges along their journey. And one thing I hear over and over again is some form of this… “I just couldn’t take one minute more of working for someone else! I needed to make a change or I was going to lose my mind!” Or I’d hear, “it drove me crazy to see no one else has created this solution yet in my industry… so I built it myself!”
And on top of that inner dialogue, there also seems to be a mindset leap that we must take from “OMG, I need to change my current career path or I’m going to go nuts…”
….through the rollercoaster of doubt and fear that screams, “holy smokes, I can’t do this!”
…and then, break past that to the “heck yeah, I’m #doingthething and taking action! This feels good!”
So, how do we do that? Simple… it all boils down to three things:
- make space for awareness
- know who’s speaking right now
- work towards a quick win
Let’s simplify that.
Here are 3 simple ways to squash your stinkin’ thinkin’ today:
Make space for awareness
Okay, so if we can agree that your inner critic is more than likely your Fear (with a capital F) trying to speak up and keep you safe, that’s a good starting point. Fear loves your comfort zone because it’s known, it’s safe, and it’s likely there won’t be any unexpected surprises popping up there anytime soon. (spoiler alert, there are unexpected surprises everywhere… but that’s another episode for another time.) So if your stinkin’ thinkin’ is cropping up right now, give her space to speak. Let her be heard.
- TIP: If you’re feeling like your mind is spiraling downwards into Negative Nancy mode, I want you to pull out your journal and pen and then set a 7-minute timer. It’s time to get it all up and out of you… and onto your piece of paper. Word everything in 2nd person and as Liz Gilbert, the author of “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” recommends, it’s time to write a letter to yourself from your Fear. Start it by saying this… “Dear ______, This is your Fear and here’s what I need to tell you.”
- Write it all out, “you are lazy, this idea is horrible, you’re never going to get this thing up and off the ground.” Whatever it is your inner critic is worried about in this moment, put it down on paper without judgment or editing along the way. No one besides you is going to see this piece of paper and please, feel free to set it on fire afterwards if you like. But after 7 minutes of journaling this stuff out, you’ll start to break down the crippling chains it holds in your brain when you get it out. You’re making space for awareness and allowing your inner critic’s voice to be heard.
- Remember: you aren’t AGREEING with what he/she/they are saying… you’re simply giving them a place to space to speak and be heard.
- After you’ve journaled for 7 minutes, I want you to go back and ask the simple question… “is this true? Could I find 20 people who know me and what I’m capable of, who would agree with this belief?” And most importantly, ask yourself: “is this thought bringing me closer or further away from what I really, truly want in life?” Bottomline, is this thought useful? (more than likely, the answer is NO.)
Know who’s speaking right now
Have you heard about the book “Freedom from Your Inner Critic: A Self-Therapy Approach” written by Dr Jay Earley yet? He’s developed a self-therapy tool that helps people identify the 7 basic types of your inner critic. They are:
- The Perfectionist voices a need to set standards so high that you are unlikely to ever be able to live up to them. It fears being judged or rejected.
- The Guilt-Tripper can’t let go of the past, and won’t allow you to forgive yourself for wrongs you have done or people you have hurt.
- The Underminer undermines your self-confidence and self-esteem. It keeps you so doubtful about yourself that you won’t take risks.
- The Destroyer attacks your self-worth, shames you and tells you that you are fundamentally flawed.
- The Molder tells you that, in order to be accepted and not rejected, you must conform to standards of your family, society or your culture.
- The Taskmaster relentlessly pushes you to work harder and be successful, lest you be judged as a failure.
- The Inner Controller seeks to control your inner impulses, so that they will not get out of control, and you become unacceptable in the eyes of others.
So, with that information, which type is speaking loudest in your stinkin’ thinkin’ right now? Are you being bullied by your inner Guilt-Tripper or what about your inner Perfectionist?
- TIP: Review Dr. Earley’s list of the 7 basic types of an inner critic. Define your inner critic, know who’s speaking right now in your head.
- Remember, all of our inner critic messages actually have positive intentions behind them. They are attempting to protect us from being judged, shamed or rejected. The problem is, your stinkin’ thinkin’ perpetuates your anxiety and keeps you stuck, right? No bueno.
- Keep in mind, your inner critic is not reality and it certainly isn’t the truth. Once you’ve defined your inner critic, I want you to ask yourself the question, “what would my best friend or mentor tell me right now, in response to this?” The truth can be found there!
Work towards a quick win
Many times, when my own stinkin’ thinkin’ crops up is when I’ve got a monumentally HUGE goal that I’m going after and I feel like I’m NEVER going to get there, I’m never going to achieve it. It’s too big, too far away. Too many unknowns, in between. Can anyone relate?? Well, here’s what’s been working for me lately…
- TIP: You’ve gotta get in a quick win, like today. When your body or mind can start to see progress, it builds momentum towards retraining your brain to believe this big, new thing is possible.
- (That’s the RAS part of the brain that Trevor Blake and I were talking about earlier this week!) It’s the filtering part of your brain that is trying to collect data points in what you experience today, that’ll help strengthen your beliefs and solidify them as truths in your life. So, if you have a stinkin’ thinkin’ thought of “I’m not good with numbers” and you sit down to do your bookkeeping but your eyes start to gaze over, your brain is going to say, “see, told you so! You’re the worst at this! Give up now!”
- Therefore, we need a quick win to get you back on track and collecting more positive, empowering data points to outweigh the junk. So, what’s one teeny tiny step you can make today to make progress on your goal? Whether that’s signing up for a quickbooks training course or watching a 5-min instructional video on YouTube or calling your accountant for recommendations on hiring a qualified bookkeeper? I’m not suggesting the entire problem is solved in one fail swoop, but you’re at least chipping away at it, bit by bit and making tiny progress every single day to rewrite your life.
- Remember what Marie Forleo says, friends… “everything is figureoutable” which means that no matter what you’re faced with today, you can do something to pull yourself out of the muck. It may suck right now, but it won’t suck forever if (and only if) you remember you’ve got the power to make a change, always.
I’ve received CBT therapy in the past, which stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and one of the things I learned from my therapist was this – you must recognize the negative self-talk, examine the triggers and feelings underneath it, question the facts and then substitute another thought in its place.
This is powerful stuff and I can tell you firsthand, it definitely works. Here is what you need to notice:
- the triggering thought and situation: “I’m not good with numbers” and maybe this was what you were thinking this week when you started to file your taxes.
- the feelings underneath: “I feel ashamed… I’m a business owner, shouldn’t I know this basic stuff already!”
- unhelpful thoughts and mental images: “What if my team finds out my books are a mess? What if we lose everything because I can’t pay my taxes?”
- the facts that support your negative thoughts: “there was that time where I royally messed up my taxes and had to pay way more than I was expecting that one year”
- the facts that DON’T support your negative thoughts: “I realized I needed to improve my skills, so I got extra training and that really helped.”
- substitute in another, more healthy thought in its place: “Actually, when I got that training and hired that new accountant, my skills did improve. I really do have the ability to figure this stuff out, because I’ve done that countless times before. Yes, it’s big and scary, but I survived the last time and I will get through it this time, as well. I will focus there, instead.”
- embody the new outcome: Now it’s time to reevaluate how you feel after reframing your inner dialogue to a more positive perspective. “Now that I’ve reframed it, I can see my current situation in a more positive perspective. Maybe it isn’t as bad as I once thought. When I think this way, I move closer to my end goal, faster.”
Maybe it’s just that simple.
One final whisper
Stinkin’ thinkin’ – we all get it. No one, no matter how successful they are or how much money they’ve got in the bank or how many Instagram followers they might have… I repeat, NO ONE is immune to their own inner critic.
The secret is to figure out how to get your stinkin’ thinkin’ to stop screaming at you… and simmer down to an occasional whisper, here and there.
And this takes time. It takes you being committed to working on your brain every single day. Give your inner critic positive data points that start show him/her/they that the old (negative) anchors can be released and you’re ready to lay down new (more positive) beliefs about yourself and the world around you.
You have to be willing to try new things and potentially, look like a fool. Make mistakes and not get it perfect, all the time. Do that new thing 10,000 times to build in the repetition and break down the fear surrounding it. And if 10,000 times sounds super big and you’re never going to there, can you commit to (simply) doing it once today? And then, trying it again tomorrow? And the day after that?
You see, your stinkin’ thinkin’ is just a coping mechanism that the old you created (unconsciously) a million years ago. But do you want to hear the GOOD NEWS? You are no longer that person today. You get to choose a new thought. Those old anchors aren’t the end-all-be-all and you have the power to decide to do one teeny tiny thing differently today.
You realize the power in:
- making space for awareness
- knowing who’s speaking right now
- and you are committed to working towards a quick win… yes, today.
You can do this, I believe in you.
It’s time to SIMPLIFY.
If this thought of the day inspired you…
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Show credits: Suzen Marie, our Podcast Editor. Jeffrey Lynn, our Video Editor. Lyden Yardley, our Show Notes Editor, Kristin Castillo, our resident Superhero, and Manminder Athwal, our Blogger. Aubri Nowowiejski, Chris Justice and George Mills, our advisory board. And I’m your host, Mary Baird-Wilcock. Thank you so much for joining us.
As always friends, keep things simple.
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